Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ireland 2013 – Days 0 and 1 - Dublin

This is the log of the trip that Annie and I planned for our Spring Break. She has never been to Europe and I had never been in Ireland, so we look forward to discovering a new destination together. We started with a 4:30 am {No, no, no – let’s get this right – 2-1/2 hours of sleep for Annie and up and then up at 1:30 am} call on our friend Milind, who has the curse of living close to the Sacramento airport and is frequently drafted to drive me to the airport and then keeping my car at his place for a week or so. He has always been very gracious about it, and I am deeply grateful for his help.  {I love you, Milind, - you have the most wonderfully convenient home for weary travelers to make their trip a quicker jaunt to and from the airport!  Thank you.}

We departed on time, at 6 am, headed for Chicago O’Hare, where we arrived at noon, local time, to pay the briefest of visits to Robin and Monty, Annie’s parents. They took us to lunch at the Hilton in the airport (needless to say, a very nice lunch), and we had a very nice, ambling chat about everything and nothing. It was very nice to see them and see that they are doing well.  {I loved every moment, even the stories that went on and on.  Wink, wink!  It was so great to hug you both and to visit with you.  Kisses!}

At 7 pm we boarded the Aer Lingus flight that was to bring us across the Atlantic, and eight magical {magical? No sleep once again for moi! Now, I have been up for 48 hours or more – agh!!!} hours later we arrived in Dublin, 9 am local time. It was overcast, cold and windy but, since we had good jackets and were renting a car, we had little reason for concern. I got screwed by Enterprise, where I was talked into accepting a more expensive car (never, ever, let them talk you into that), and was strong-armed into getting local insurance “because Ireland is a high-risk country and most insurers do not cover accidents {in Ireland, Israel, and poop, I forget the 3rd country}.” The high risk is true, given that they drive on the wrong side of the road, so in the long run is better to get local insurance, but it is expensive and I could have saved myself the expense of buying insurance through a US carrier. Grrr!

Getting re-acquainted with driving on the wrong side of the road took some doing {‘Honey is being quite modest here –he’s amazing}, but it was Easter Sunday, with very little traffic, and with only a couple of wrong turns we made it to downtown Dublin without any mishap, and just in time to hear the bells pealing to announce Easter mass. We joined the crowd and got front row seats in the Christ Church Cathedral {Amazing!!!}, where we were treated to the high mass of the Anglican service, with no other than the Archbishop of Dublin delivering the sermon, and the choir treating us to beautiful singing. After the mass we went down to the crypt, for a “cup o’tea” and some crumpets {and please let’s not forget the glass of deliciously cold wine – I thought that was rather unique. And I must state for the record, the wine seemed to be a hit.  But mais oui, we are in Ireland!}

By about noon, we were back on the street, in the Temple Bar district, famous for its many pubs and eateries. We were beginning to feel jet-lagged, but bravely performed our duty as tourists, bought two yummy pasties for lunch, and ended in Trinity College, the oldest and most prestigious university in Ireland (among its graduates are celebrities such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Bram Stoker (of Dracula fame)). The college was established sometime in the 1500’s, but in its current form the university just celebrated its 300 years anniversary. The crowning jewel, as far as we were concerned, was the library. It is a nave a good 500 m long, with two stories, and houses 200,000 books!  {And the rolling ladders in each section quite took my breath away! If we can get back to Dublin early enough on Sunday – I will do my best coercion techniques to have ‘H’oney zip us back there for another pass through!!!} The most famous is the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated medieval rendition of the four Gospels dating back to 1100 AD.

After being suitably impressed by the library we went back to roaming the streets, and finished the afternoon paying a visit to the very impressive Museum of Archaeology and History of Ireland. Their exhibition of gold artifacts is absolutely breathtaking! {The museum was wonderful, but by this time I was literally swaying in sleep – quite sadly, I don’t remember much of anything I saw.}  Unfortunately by this time (5 pm) we were beginning to seriously feel the effects of jet lag, so with only the briefest pauses to buy some souvenirs and rations of fish and chips (OK, but not great, {due to the smallest amount of malt vinegar being shaken on them – I mean, REALLY, if it’s not swimming in vinegar – it just isn’t great!}) we headed for the car and our youth hostel.

The youth hostel room is OK, but Annie was in her critical mood and complained, complained, complained. Finally, we crowded together in one of the narrow bunkbeds {now why should I be complaining – hmmm?}, where I could kiss her goodnight {that was the nice part}, and by 7 pm we were in the land of nod {I didn’t sleep a wink!  What with teenage girls running screaming up and down the hallway, and too long of little to no sleep - I was beyond overdone.}

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